The coronavirus pandemic came seemingly out of nowhere and swept away any doubts we might have had surrounding the potential fallout of Brexit.

It’s a crisis that has tested us all on an unprecedented level and while many in the UK are now slowly getting back to work after many weeks in lockdown, we’re only a few months into a crisis that could linger for years to come.

For contractors and engineers, these last couple of weeks have marked a significant return to work, with tradesmen now officially allowed to return to work with minimal restrictions.

However, it’s now down to individual businesses and employees to decide whether or not to return to work and this has thrown further complications in the works for many.

But how are these tradesmen and women been coping in a world where work is scarce and social distancing is all but mandatory?

The new normal

With uncertainty clouding the air in all walks of life right now (and the government doing very little to help matters) questions are being asked every day that we would have never deemed necessary in a pre-COVID-19 world.

For example, the boiler has been playing up all weekend and come Monday, it’s reached the point where nobody in the house can take a shower.

The logical course of action would be to call in a professional plumber or specialist heating engineer to take a look at the boiler before it packs up.

But with social distancing now very much on the agenda, even with much of the UK now back to work, is it still legal and safe for tradesmen to step foot on your premises and fix your boiler?

However, during the lockdown, most electricians and plumbers have still been working in at least some small capacity, either on an emergency basis or on a basis of screening all calls to establish whether or not customers are exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms.


The fact is, with more of us spending more time at home, we will be using our boilers more than we typically would and this is going to lead to complications.

The only thing that has changed profoundly for many heating engineers and plumbers is a lack of annual service visits and any other jobs that are deemed ‘unessential’.

Electricity is as important a utility for the modern world as gas and water, particularly with so many people working from home now that never would have even considered working from home otherwise. This has also meant a heavier use of electrical appliances and a heavier load being put on electrical systems. So, work for electricians and plumbers alike is bound to pick up in the coming weeks.

Ultimately, however, it varies from provider to provider. The vast majority will be working on a case-by-case basis right now; taking indie usual criteria into account and performing regular risk assessments. They will also be assessing not only what kind of risk each job entails but whether or not each job represents an emergency or essential repair.

It could, of course, be argued that a boiler packing up is an emergency, but it’s entirely up to the providers and sole traders whether or not it’s worth the risk to them and you.

Returning to work

There was initially confusion amongst tradesmen when the lockdown was first announced, but it’s a sector that continued to persevere by necessity and due to the steadfastness of its workers.

Going forward, it’s probably going to take a good few months for the changes to truly bed in but as long as there is a clear line of communication between engineers, employers, and customers then it’s something we can all figure out together.